This past year our family encountered more financial hardship than ever before. We desperately sought God for answers and provision, and He provided both. While we listened for His answers, we believed He was telling us to rent our cozy home to in-training missionaries we knew needed an affordable place to live. We moved out of our house and into a one-room dwelling on our farm so they could move in.

This wasn’t our first choice for how God would provide. This provision included sacrifice and living differently than ever before. When our kids heard we were moving, the first thing they asked about was our annual family Christmas celebration.

At first, I too was concerned we wouldn’t have our home. But then I remembered Jesus left His home. He traded comfort for something that paled in comparison - all for a greater purpose. Jesus left the portals of glory, the very throne of God, the kingdom of Heaven, and the presence of His Father, to be born to a poor family in a common barn with animals. He wasn’t born to just any poor family, but one of the weakest clans of Israel. There was no pomp or pageantry when He was born; He had nothing but strips ofcloth to cover His body. Mary didn’t get to order her favorite meal after the delivery or have the luxury of a comfortablebed to rest in that night.

When they returned home, there were no balloons or people waiting to celebrate His birth. In fact, many in their small town thought Jesus was illegitimate.

As a young man, He never acquired wealth or reputation. He even considered himself homeless, with nowhere to lay His head. In His final days, He was rejected, mocked and tortured before being crucified. His entire life was one of sacrifice and obedience for His Father.

When I thought about everything Jesus sacrificed to come to earth, it made me embarrassed about my own expectations for a traditional Christmas. For so many years, I packed December so full I barely had time to reflect on the simplicity of the real story of Jesus’ birth. It’s a story of sacrifice and simplicity from beginning to end. Remembering the reality of Jesus’ birth and His God-centered life assured me our move was God’s provision.

The past few years have been hard. God has reminded me of a winepress. Repeated crushing is crucial to producing fine wine. Sometimes God allows us to go through repeated crushing to press us into His greater purpose.

This Christmas is different. We will set aside many traditions, such as a big decorated tree and gingerbread houses sitting in a row. Instead, we will celebrate Christmas more joyfully and humbly than ever before. We are learning that the hardest circumstances are often the things that push us into His greater purpose for our lives. To celebrate Jesus’ birth, we will go to the barn, scatter clean hay on the ground, read the Nativity story, eat a simple supper and thank God for what He has taught us this year about provisions and sacrifice.

Next year, Lord willing, we will move back into our house. As a memorial to what the Lord has taught us, we will once again celebrate a simple Christmas, focused on Jesus’ birth. Maybe we’ll light a candle, read the prophecies of Jesus’ birth and the Gospelaccount on the floor near a window. Maybe we will look out at the stars and sleep on the floor with few provisions or comfort. Maybe we will eat crackers and drink grape juice together in remembrance of everything Jesus lived and died for.

May you and your family press into God this Christmas. May you experience His peace and answers. Though His provisions might come with sacrifice, when you follow God’s leading, they always bring you into His greater purpose.

Sharon Glasgow is a speaker with Proverbs 31 Ministries. She a wife and mother of five beautiful daughters, she lives on a farm in Northern Virginia .